By Gail Lynne Goodwin.
How do you say goodbye to the man who taught you how to fly? When I was a toddler my dad would fly me through the air in his arms, pretending I was a bird. As a little girl he used to lie down on his back, stretch his legs towards the sky with me balanced on his feet and instantly, I was an airplane. I knew that I could fly anywhere with my dad, even if it was just in my imagination.
As I grew older I realized what a gift this metaphor was in my life. My dad taught me that I could do anything. He taught me to follow my dreams. When life knocked him down, I watched as he got back up, brushed himself off and kept going. He was like the Energizer Bunny.
He died about a month ago and it still hurts. I still can’t imagine life without him and somehow it still doesn’t seem real. We get so used to having our parents in our life, and think that they will always be there… until they’re not. Then, we’re left alone, to fly on our own.
Although I’ve been flapping my wings for more than 50 years, I’ve always known that no matter what happened, I always had a safe place to land. With both parents passing in the last year, I’m now the “oldest” generation, and that’s going to take a bit of time to get used to.
As much as I appreciated both of my parents through the years, I don’t think I have ever had a greater appreciation for them than I do today, when they’re both gone. Perhaps it’s just that in the finality, we reflect on the important relationships in a deeper way.
When I look at the greatest gifts in my life, I’m grateful for the foundation my parents gave me, but I’m even more grateful for the wings. They’ve allowed me to fly to the places that I dreamt about as a child, and achieve the goals that I set as an adult. They’ve taken me out of the box to live an extraordinary life.
More than anything, they’ve allowed me to have the courage to jump off the ledges in life, knowing that no matter what, it will be a magnificent flight.
Thanks Dad for teaching me how to fly, and for the courage and the faith that I learned through your example of how to live a good life. I’ll carry your wisdom with me for the rest of my life and, hopefully, will pass it on to my children and grandchildren too. Thanks for the wings.